Equal Pay for Women – A Pricing Perspective

rosie-the-riveter-poster-sEqual pay for women has been in the news a lot lately. Depending on what research you read, women make only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Presented like this it certainly seems unfair. And it seems to imply there is a bias against women in business.

In my view, your salary is the price you put on yourself. If you are worth more (i.e. add more value), you can charge more. Your customer (which is your employer) decides if you are worth your price.

Here’s the secret: Businesses are greedy. They want the best workers for the least amount of money. Most companies and managers couldn’t care less about your gender, race, hair color, height, etc. If you can make them more money than your competitor (another possible employee) they want you. They will pay to hire you if you can convince them. They will pay to keep you when you demonstrate it.

Imagine what would happen if this wasn’t true. If managers or companies intentionally underpaid high performing women, just because they are women. In this situation there would be a lot of low-priced talent waiting to be snatched up by an enterprising company. We should see companies who only hire these women out of their under-appreciated positions become wildly successful, because they are able to land great talent.

Business people are more greedy than biased.

Here’s an example. Most Americans would probably prefer to purchase things that are “Made in America”. And most US companies and managers would surely rather hire and manage Americans than go overseas. However, manufacturing moves overseas. Why? Because companies get similar quality work at lower prices. Making more money (greed) overpowers bias.

I’ve worked with some amazing women, who were much smarter and more talented than me. I took a negotiating class with a woman who beat her counterparts every time. I’ve seen women work far more hours than me. I know many women who make far more money than me, and they deserved it.

On the other hand, I’ve also known very talented and aggressive businesswomen who, once they had a baby, wanted to work fewer hours so they could be with their children. Nothing wrong with this. It’s a choice.

I’m not an expert on all of the social issues, the biases that happen while raising girls vs. boys. But I am very experienced in business. Businesses are greedy. They want to pay the lowest price for the highest quality in every situation. Labor is no different.

If you, woman or man, want to make more money, add more value. Companies pay more for value.  If yours won’t, another will.